the pain and joy our inner child can carry

I read a lovely post yesterday about someone feeling joy at watching a little girl being given support and time to play in the waves on the beach and it triggered some feelings from when I saw a Mum lovingly helping her little daughter down a long flight of stairs near to where I was sitting have my coffee a year or so ago. The whole thing was delightful but sad, I never felt that constant, patient, reassuring presence in my life and come to think of it that was not my Mum’s fault entirely as she never had it either.

The person shared in comments how she could take the joy in that experience now and let go of some of her own inner child’s pain (inside her adult self) and it got me to thinking how inherently our inner child is connected to deeply emotional experiences from the past that can still leave a resonant charge within us. We may not know what our gut is responding too or we may. That said I just did some browsing through a book on the impact of unresolved trauma in relationships and in it Tian Dayton speaks of how our process of healing and feeling and mourning our past traumas requires of us a diving down to reclaim bits of our trauma wreckage, so often triggered by experiences or relationships. She writes how for the survivor of attachment trauma relationships become a mine field because of the way early pain lies fused inside the person and then retriggered. This is how she explains it :

when trauma occurs thinking and feeling get welded together…. intimacy and danger, love and pain get carried within the mind in a fused state so that later in life when the trauma survivor encounters intimacy, it may trigger fears (or sadness). Trauma survivors become perennially suspicious, unable to stay present and modulated…. the present is constantly being pulled upon by unresolved complexes and fears (and feelings) that have their roots in the past. Locating the traumas is like diving for a crashed plane is a murky lake or shadow filled unconscious. Trauma survivors (work to) dredge up pieces of the wreckage one by one, hoping enough gets reassembled so clues to the cause can be revealed. … or wait to see if pieces float to the surface and provide clues about what lives below. .. until enough truth is known, the psyche is somehow NOT AT REST. Trauma survivors need to understand what happened so that they can reorder their inner world with that information in it, so they can return to the land of the living and reintegrate the disaster in a found state, within the psyche.

She goes onto explain how essential grief work is to the process of healing but how most of us want to skip over many of its stages which include : yearning, searching, sadness, anger and despair…

the human heart and the human psyche are far too complex to be reduced… the genesis of behaviour is thought and emotion…out growths of the vast network of experiences and meanings we draw from them. People make meaning out of traumatic situations and then live according to that meaning. When pain emerges, it may be an intense feeling, a somatic response such as palm sweating or increased heart rate, or an unsettling wish to distance or dissociate from an awkward or painful situation. The illusion that people can skip over the middle steps of mourning means skipping over the loss or trauma itself and everything attached to it. Such people are trying to write sentences in their life story without knowing the proper vocabulary – too much is missing for meaningful comprehension to take place. It is in diving into the feeling, into the lake of the unconscious that the missing pieces are found.

When pain is felt rather than denied, and looked at rather than repressed, it can be seen in a new light, understood and reintegrated….

awareness grows as a result of this process. Corrective experiences can be had and new healthier memories integrated alongside the painful ones.

It was interesting reading this and recognising the sadness and yearning I felt watching that mother with her little daughter negotiating the staircase, I am sure it was not only mine because such yearnings our parents buried are often passed on. But I was also thinking of how once my inner child could relate and make sense of to this missing sense of unconditional patient loving support and joy new experiences for me may be possible. I may not have to keep looking so hard for that loving mother outside of myself any more. I can and could feel the grief over it and know where it came from. I then thought that may result in the possibility of me living less from my wounded child in relationships and more from my joy filled, loving soul child because it seems to me in exploring all of this that the soul in us knows what it means to be open and in awe when young, before all of the painful experiences warp us and cut us off from the sense of comfort and joy in being most deeply in touch with and attuned to our inner feelings and self especially in and through more loving and self aware relationships within the present.

(N.B. All quotes are taken from Heartwounds : The Impact of Unresolved Trauma and Grief on Relationships, by Tian Dayton – Health Communications.

6 thoughts on “the pain and joy our inner child can carry

  1. There is so much emotional value to be culled from our childhood that is positive. I was thinking about how days seemed to last so much longer when I was young, and then it occurred to me that was probably because we didn’t have watches and calendars to abide by. Outside of school and activities, we had no schedule.

      1. So true i dream of new schools opening that honour the state children naturally live in up to age 7 especially. So much of our soul is related to our younger self. Sadly it gets killed off far too young. 😇

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